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Best Lauryn Hill Verses
In the absence of new Lauryn Hill songs I got to thinking about what makes me crave something new from her. I concluded that it’s the fact that her old stuff was so multifaceted. In my opinion, many female mc’s have not come close to the depth of Lauryn Hill’s verses. Here are the 3 verses that I think were the best Lauryn Hill verses of all time (so far). These are not necessarily her best songs. This article contains my opinions.
#3 Guantanamera (Album: The Carnival)
Although it’s from Wyclef’s album, this verse is, in my view, one of the best representations of Lauryn’s story-telling abilities. This verse tells the story of a woman who gets what she wants from the world and plays by her own rules. She says:
She was a rose in Spanish Harlem,
Mamacita, beg your pardon
Made stakes at a faster rate than she fornicates
Pure traits of genius,
Goddess of Black Venus
Crab ni**s angry cause they can’t get between us
to no selex-ion, smooth complex-ion
The lexicon of Lexington, parents came from Cuba, part-Mexican,
pure sweet, dimes fell to her feet
She liked Movado, and shook her hips like Delgado
And broke ni**s down from the Grounds to Apollo
and then some, she took her act sent it to Dim Sum
And waited patiently while the businessmen come
Call late on purpose, got even politicians nervous
And made plans to infiltrate the street secret service
This gentle flower, fertility was her power
Sweet persona, Venus Flytrap primadonna
Que sera que sera she turned dinero to dinera
Here, Hill’s use of cadence (selex-ion as opposed to selection), imagery (shook her hips like Delgado), and word-play (Dim-Sum… businessmen come) is what makes this verse so special. This one is self-explanatory so let’s move on.
#2 ‘Final Hour’ (Verse 2)
In the second verse of ‘Final Hour’ Lauryn gives us insight into her goals for her music. If we pay attention we catch a glimpse of her early aspirations. She says:
I’m about to change the focus from the richest to the brokest
I wrote this opus to reverse the hypnosis
To the line’s gonna win it
You gonna fall tryin to ball
While my team win the pennant
I’m about to be in it
For a minute
Then run for senate
Make a slum lord be the tenant
Give his money to kids to spend it
And then amend it
Every law that ever prevented
Our survival since our arrival
Documented in the bible
Like Moses and Aaron
Things gon change, it’s apparent
And all the transparent gonna be seen through
Let God redeem you
Keep your deen true
You can get the green too
Watch out what you cling to
Observe how a queen do
And I remain calm readin’ the 73 Psalm
Cause with all that’s goin on I got The Word in palm
The entire Final Hour song is obviously about “the last days”. That’s not what makes it one of the best Lauryn Hill songs or verses. This is one of Lauryn’s best verses because it encourages us to examine our lives with a view toward later having to answer to a Higher Power–something rarely seen in hip hop. Here Lauryn seeks to shine the light on the righteous whether they be poor or not. She wants to ‘change the focus from the richest to the brokest’ but later says ‘you can get the green too..watch out what you cling to’. She also seeks to ‘reverse the hypnosis’ that music undoubtedly has on people by making her music meaningful enough to wake people up.
Her reference to the 73rd Psalm is particularly interesting because that scripture discusses shunning worldly things in favor of a closer walk with God. This is what she means when she says ‘you gonna fall tryna ball” and proclaims to have “The Word” in her palm. Also, Lauryn’s declaration that she’s going to run for senate is particularly telling. It makes me speculate as to whether she still has any political aspirations.
#1 ‘Ready Or Not’ (Remix)
Now for the best Lauryn Hill verse of all time– Hill’s verse on the Ready or Not Remix. It goes:
If I could change the times, make rhymes, raise the babies
Give all the pigs rabies
Send biting n*as to Hades
Clothe young ladies
Chase the rainbow, find the pot
Free the third time offender once he learns to make Selaat
Lose the fame, take the money
Play boys–just like they done me
Find a man with a plan
Slap a chicken if she act funny
Break the bank, own tank
Stop n**as from acting stank
Take over, give out free Rovers
Teach a man to find Jehovah
Own the stores, own the tours
Watch the record pimps and whores
Make love, stop the wars
Cop the land, like the Moors
Make the last be the first
Make the god respect the earth
Change the murder rate to the birth!
This is almost like Lauryn Hill’s own version of ‘If I Ruled The World’ (the Nas song that she sang the hook on). It’s almost as if she wrote this verse for that song. In any case, here we see Ms. Hill being political, vulnerable, smart, human, and clever all at once. From the proclamations indicating that she is a Christian (“teach a man to find Jehovah”) to the respect for other religions (“make Selaat”, “Cop the land like the Moors”, and “make the god respect the earth”–a 5-percenter reference) she demonstrates supreme depth while revealing her humanity.
Her references to the murder rates, and stopping the wars indicate that she is a peace-loving person (at least when she’s not ‘slapping a chicken’). Her references to owning stores, giving out free Rovers, and ‘taking the money’ show an acknowledgment of the capitalist system, but in the context of the rest of the verse, the listener understands that this is not the typical materialism usually witnessed in hip hop. Furthermore, her reference to giving ‘pigs’ rabies shows that she shares the widespread disdain for the police within the hip hop community–an interesting way to make an oft-referenced point.
Another aspect of this verse that makes it so wonderful is Lauryn Hill’s proclamation that she wishes she could ‘lose the fame’. This gives us insight into the fact that even back when the Fugees recorded The Score, Lauryn Hill was uncomfortable with the limelight. This could provide insight and could have even served as foreshadowing of Lauryn Hill’s eventual retreat from the public eye. All of this is what makes this the best Lauryn Hill verse of all time.
Lauryn Hill’s impact on hip hop is undeniable. Hopefully she will return to hip hop and give us some more great verses.
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